Civil Rights Organizations Demand Court Order Requiring NYPD Stop-and-Frisk Reforms
Organizations that successfully challenged stop and frisk request reforms based on three years of community input
Today, the attorneys behind three landmark class actions that challenged the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk and trespass enforcement practices as racially discriminatory and unconstitutional (Floyd v. City of New York, Ligon v. City of New York, and Davis v. City of New York) urged the federal court to order the NYPD to implement reforms generated through community input. The reforms were designed based on input from those directly affected by the NYPD’s unlawful practices, and they are intended to develop a more thorough set of reforms than the previously court-ordered changes to certain NYPD written procedures and training materials.
“We are asking for the NYPD to make critical changes to officer discipline and monitoring in response to demands from the people most affected by unlawful stops,” said Jenn Rolnick Borchetta, Deputy Director of Impact Litigation for The Bronx Defenders. “These reforms are needed to fix constitutional violations proven at trial that persist to this day, and without them, we fear the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk problem will continue.”
The community input process, ordered by the court to remedy the NYPD’s constitutional violations and known as the Joint Remedial Process, was conducted over the last three years. It collected input from thousands of people from the communities impacted by the NYPD’s practices — as well as elected officials, religious and academic leaders, and NYPD representatives — through 64 focus groups and 28 community forums across the city. Last month, the court-appointed facilitator of the Joint Remedial Process issued a report on his recommendations to the court, and the plaintiffs are asking the court to order the NYPD to implement them.
“After years of mistreatment and unaddressed concerns that continue to this day, thousands of New Yorkers devoted their time and energy in the Joint Remedial Process to developing reforms for the NYPD’s unlawful practices,” said Angel Harris, Assistant Counsel at NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. “No one understands the indignities of the NYPD’s discriminatory trespass enforcement practices like those who were victimized by it, and that’s precisely why the court must ensure the voices of public housing residents and other impacted New Yorkers remain at the heart of the reform process.”
“For decades, the City ignored the community’s repeated demands to reform its unconstitutional policing practices. Even now, the facilitator’s reform recommendations were issued only because the NYPD could not agree with the plaintiffs and community stakeholders on any JRP reforms,” said Center for Constitutional Rights Senior Staff Attorney Darius Charney. “A court order is necessary to ensure that reforms to the systemic constitutional violations that were proven at trial – and that continue to this day – are not vulnerable to the whims of new NYPD personnel or policy positions.”
The plaintiffs have asked the court to order the City to implement the Joint Remedial Process reforms because the NYPD is expected to oppose them. The reforms generated from the Joint Remedial Process will strengthen the initial set of court-ordered changes developed as part of the Immediate Reform Process, which includes reforms to NYPD written policies, trainings, supervision, discipline, and monitoring developed between the parties’ attorneys and a federal monitor responsible for overseeing reforms.
“The facilitator’s report makes it very clear that communities historically harmed by the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policies demand more transparency and accountability from officers committing constitutional violations,” said Cynthia Conti-Cook, Staff Attorney with the Criminal Special Litigation Unit at The Legal Aid Society. “We think it’s equally important that the NYPD do more to identify patterns of constitutional violations caused not just by rogue police officers but by their sergeants, lieutenants, and commanding officers, and urge the court to adopt the facilitator’s recommendations.”
“For too long, New Yorkers have been subjected to discriminatory, overzealous policing in their neighborhoods and even in their buildings and homes,” said Jordan Wells, Staff Attorney at New York Civil Liberties Union. “Through litigation and the court-ordered remedial process, community members have called for an end to unconstitutional NYPD policies and practices. We urge the adoption of these crucial measures to ensure long-lasting reform.”
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.